Chasing 395,000 points. Final results.

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Late last week, my wife and I received thin letters from Chase. Both were application denials that listed the reason as “Too many requests for credit or opened accounts with us”. My wife’s denial was for the Marriott Business card. My denial was for the Ink Plus. So, as any good credit card signer-upper would do, we called recon.

My wife’s reconsideration call was easy. After a few questions about my wife’s business, the agent asked if it would be OK if he moved credit from my wife’s Ink Plus card to this new card. “You bet!” Approved!

My reconsideration experience wasn’t as smooth. The first agent I spoke with didn’t waste any time. After I verified my identity, she said “We see you have opened 2 other cards with Chase within the past 30 days. We want to see how you do with those cards before we’ll consider others.” And, that was it.

In the past, I’ve had luck calling more than once, so I tried again. The next agent was very nice. She asked lots of questions about my rental property business and was generally very friendly. I was sure she was going to approve my application until she said “I will now review your info; How many cards you have with us; All of that type of info.” Uh oh.

After a few minutes on hold, she came back just to let me know that she was still working on it. Did I detect slightly less friendliness in her voice that time? Perhaps…

Finally she returned to the line. Somewhat abruptly, she said “We couldn’t come to an approval at this time.” Since she seemed to be in my corner a few minutes ago, I asked her if there was any way to reverse the decision. Ultimately she just repeated what the first agent had said. “You opened two other cards with Chase within the past 30 days. We want to see how you do with those cards before we’ll consider others.”

What Chase didn’t say (no 5/24 rule yet)

It’s worth noting that all three Chase agents we spoke with stressed that we had opened many Chase accounts recently. I don’t think it was my imagination that each agent stressed the word “Chase”.

Chase has infamously instituted its “5/24” rule for some of its cards. The rule is that they will not approve a new application if you have opened 5 or more accounts in the past 24 months with any bank. None of the agents mentioned the number of accounts we had opened overall (each well over 5). It was clear that our denials were not due to the 5/24 rule. This means that the 5/24 rule was not yet in place for either business cards (Ink Plus) or co-branded cards (Marriott Business). This is consistent with Doctor of Credit’s recent report: Is 5/24 In-Effect Yet on INK and Co-brands?

Why I tried 3 apps

On March 9th, my wife applied for two Chase cards and I applied for three. The goal was to get a bunch of signup bonuses before Chase’s 5/24 rule kicked in (see the original post, “Chasing 395,000 points” for details). And, by applying for multiple Chase cards in one day, I knew that the credit inquiries would combine. You can read more about the combining of Chase credit pulls in last week’s post: Chasing 395,000 points interim update: Check status online? Did inquiries combine? And, read about monitoring credit inquiries here: Monitor credit inquiries for free from all three bureaus.

In the past year or so, I’ve often heard that Chase will limit approvals to two per month. In fact, I wrote the following in the Chase App Tips section of my Best Offers page: “Usual max 2 new cards per month (but rule seems to vary).” But, I didn’t know if that rule applied to business cards. So, as an experiment, I applied for one personal card and two business cards. And the businesses were different: one is my blog business and the other is rental property I own. Almost exactly three years ago, I tried the exact same thing (three Chase cards and two business cards, each from a different business) and all three were approved after recon calls. So, it seemed at least possible that it would work this time. It didn’t.

Result Summary

The following card offers were ultimately approved:

  • Marriott Rewards Premier (me): 87.5K after $3K spend and adding an authorized user (our son)
  • Marriott Rewards Premier (wife): 87.5K after $3K spend and adding an authorized user (our son)
  • Marriott Rewards Business (me) : 80K after $3K spend
  • Marriott Rewards Business (wife): 80Kafter $3K spend

And, my Ink application was denied:

  • Ink Plus (me): 60K after $5K spend

Woops. I probably should have done this differently…

I don’t regret testing the boundaries of Chase’s 2 card per month rule, but in retrospect I should have done it differently. If I had to choose between the Marriott Business 80K offer and the Ink Plus 60K offer, I would pick the Ink Plus every time. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are far more valuable than Marriott Rewards.

On the day I had applied for three Chase cards, all of my applications were pending (e.g. none were automatically approved). I called that day to push through both Marriott applications, but I waited for resolution with the Ink Plus. I’ve argued in the past that there seems to be a better chance of approval with Ink cards when you wait (see: How to get approved for the Chase Ink 60K offer). That is still (probably) good advice, but in my specific situation I should have called to try to push through the Ink Plus before the Marriott Business card. That way, if the third card was not approved it would have been the less valuable Marriott card.

What we’ll do with 347,000 Marriott Rewards points

After meeting the $3K spend requirements, we should earn a total of 347,000 Marriott Rewards points. I also have 25K points already banked. My hope is to spend those points on a high category 5 night travel package. With Marriott’s travel packages, you pay a set number of points in exchange for a 5 or 7 nights at a Marriott property plus a set number of airline miles of your choice. For details, please see: Analysis of Marriott Travel Packages: 5 Night vs. 7 Night.

5 night packages are intended to be only for Marriott Vacation (timeshare) owners, but some people have had luck calling to book them anyway. Others, though, have been told that that Marriott no longer allows exceptions. If I’m able to book a 5 night package, I’ll have enough points to choose from any package:

AA, Delta, Alaska, … 5 Nights + 50K miles 5 Nights + 70K miles 5 Nights + 100K miles 5 Nights + 120K miles
Category 1-5 165 185 215 235
Category 6 180 200 230 250
Category 7 200 220 250 270
Category 8 230 250 280 300
Category 9 275 295 325 345

The numbers above, in green, are the number of Marriott Rewards points, in thousands, required for each package. For example, on the bottom-right, the Category 9 package which offers 5 Nights + 120,000 airline miles, costs 345,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Fortunately, Marriott allows people to combine points when purchasing an award, so even though points will be distributed across my and my wife’s accounts, we will be able to use all of our points for a travel package.

If Marriott doesn’t allow us to get a 5 night package, we can get a 7 night package instead. The following chart shows (in green) that the 347K points earned from the credit cards will be enough for all but 3 packages; and by adding in my current stash of 25K points (shown in yellow), we’ll have enough for all but one package:

AA, Delta, Alaska, … 7 Nights + 50K miles 7 Nights + 70K miles 7 Nights + 100K miles 7 Nights + 120K miles
Category 1-5 200 220 250 270
Category 6 230 250 280 300
Category 7 260 280 310 330
Category 8 290 310 340 360
Category 9 320 340 370 390

In general, the best value deals with the Marriott Travel Packages are on the right side of the chart. The more airline miles you get, the better the deal because, generally, airline miles are worth a lot more than Marriott Rewards points. So, if we decided we wanted to get the Category 9, 7 night package, we would either transfer the extra 18K points required from Ultimate Rewards in order to get the 7 Night + 120K mile package or we would get the 7 Night + 100K mile package with points on-hand. Most likely, we would do the latter unless we had a specific near term use in mind for the extra 20K miles. I’d rather keep points in the form of Ultimate Rewards until I know exactly what I intend to do with them.

I don’t yet know what we’ll use all of those miles for, nor do I know where we’ll use our 5 or 7 night stay. If readers have suggestions, please let me know!

Maybe we’ll stay at the JW Marriott Phuket:

JW Marriott Phuket

Or the Kaua’i Marriott Resort:

Kaua'i Marriott Resort

Or, closer to home, it might be nice to spend a week on Hilton Head Island at the Grand Ocean resort:

Marriott Grande Ocean

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